2014 - November

Swift tower at the Bicester Wetland Reserve
Swift towers are not a new phenomenon. In Italy in the 15th century they used stone towers to ‘harvest’ nestling Swifts. This was probably done in a reasonably sustainable way by leaving at least one chick for the adults to continue to feed. Some of these old towers remain and are still used by Swifts. Others have been restored by local Swift conservationists (for more detail see www.swift-conservation.org).

Recently as Swift numbers have declined and there has been interest in creating new nest places for Swifts, towers of various designs have been put up in many European countries. In both Warsaw and in Cambridge, award-winning designs have been used and subsequently adopted by Swifts (for further information see

But other simpler versions are available, including this one which was designed and built in Northern Ireland and has been installed in about 30 locations in various parts of the UK. The most recent of them has just been put up at the Bicester Wetland Reserve which is managed by the Banbury Ornithological Society. As far as we know this is the first Swift tower in Oxfordshire.


The tower consists of a 4.5 metre galvanised steel pole set into a concrete base. The box on top has 20 separate nest places and a solar-operated battery to run the system for playing Swift calls which will help to attract Swifts.

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